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Microsoft Releases Preview of Exchange Server 2000

Written By: P. Hayes
Published On: October 13 1999

Event Summary

Atlanta Oct. 4, 1999

Today at the fourth annual Microsoft Exchange Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server beta 3, the message and collaboration server previously code-named "Platinum." Beta 3, a prerelease version of the product designed for testing and evaluation by customers and partners, will be distributed to conference attendees and will be publicly available from the Microsoft Web site in English, German, French and Japanese versions today. (Source: Microsoft)

Market Impact

Microsoft Exchange 2000 Messaging Server is interwoven with the company's new release of Windows 2000 server. Due to Microsoft's entrance into the Active Directory Structure (ADS) users will be driven to upgrade not only their existing NT Servers, but also their existing Exchange Servers, while new users will implement the 2000 Back Office Suite directly. ADS is Microsoft's attempt to catch up to Novell NetWare's NDS. Microsoft's ADS utilizes the X.500 Standard, an enhanced communication Protocol " Lightweight Directory Access Protocol" (LDAP) coupled with Domain Name Resolution (DNS). The implementation of " Directory Services " will allow a single administrator to control all messaging and network resources from a single point. Lotus's premier Messaging Server Domino also allows for LDAP access and includes a suite of Internet utilities, similar to those found in Microsoft's Exchange 5.5 Server, but is not designed to integrate into Windows 2000 Server and take full advantage of the Active Directory. Novell's GroupWise, also LDAP enabled, is designed to run on NetWare NDS servers and is synchronized with Novell's Directory Service, allowing for greater control over the GroupWise-messaging environment.

Some of the added functionality in Microsoft's New Release of Exchange are:

  • Multiple Message Databases: Having multiple Databases enables administrators to split a single logical database across multiple physical disks, thus improving performance, enhancing stability and enabling faster restores. Even with the advent of multiple databases Microsoft does not include a backup product which will restore to the mailbox level. The NTBACKUP utility which is shipped with Microsoft Windows NT Server is made " Exchange Aware" upon the installation of the exchange server, yet only allows for a " all or nothing " back up and restore of the two primary exchange databases, priv.edb and pub.edb. One may take note that neither Lotus Domino nor Novell GroupWise includes a packaged backup system specific to e-mail. Third party vendors, such as Computer Associate's ArcServe Backup for NT coupled with the Microsoft Exchange Agent, acquired separately, allow backups and restores to the mailbox level.

  • Single-seat Administration: Microsoft's Management Console (MMC), part of the current NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000 server, allows applications to function as "snap-ins". This allows for a single console for managing all Microsoft servers, whether that function is adding a server, user, Distribution List or setting security rights.

  • Instant Messaging: Whether or not instant messaging is needed is up for debate. None the less the Internet population flocks to it in herds. Microsoft is targeting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to create a larger market share. Exchange will attempt to do this through the advent of high-availability clustering servers combined with a multiple database architecture and an enhanced suite of Internet tools. Neither the current release of Lotus Domino nor Novell's GroupWise offers support for instant messaging. But with AOL's acquisition of Netscape, one can place a safe bet on seeing it in the next release of GroupWise (probability 90%).

User Recommendations

Neither Windows 2000 nor Exchange 2000 have been officially released and are not expected to ship until the second quarter of next year (probability 80%). Users should be cautious on the path to upgrading. Microsoft's initial releases tend to contain flaws within the code, (often referred to as ' bugs ') therefore it would be best to wait for the product to be fully "production tested" before jumping onto the bandwagon. For smaller companies (>500) the improvements contained within the next release offer few enhancements to satisfy current administration and networking needs. For larger organizations the flexibility of database and service paths coupled with simplified administration and faster backups make this product extremely desirable. The forthcoming release of Exchange 2000, once officially distributed, will be an overall positive for users either upgrading or considering a new messaging system.

 
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